Nebulas is a blockchain project that provides a search framework for all blockchains. Numerous blockchain-based application scenarios are emerging in a wide range of sectors. Finding the most relevant applications among a sea of decentralized apps (dApps) will likely become a challenge in the near future. Just as Google ranks websites in its search engine results using proprietary algorithms like PageRank, Nebulas wants to provide blockchain users with a simple way of searching for the most relevant information.
The project, which is often referred to as the “Google for blockchains,” was launched in 2017 by the Singapore-based Nebulas IO Foundation. Two of the Nebulas founders, Hitters Xu and Aero Wang, also co-founded NEO (formerly known as Antshares) and have become influential figures in the Chinese crypto market.
To incentivize its adoption and secure the platform, Nebulas features a utility token called NAS which is similar to Ether in terms of functionality. NAS is currently an ERC20 token, but the available supply will be swapped for native tokens once the Nebulas mainnet goes live.
NAS Pricing, Market Cap and Volume
Nebulas didn’t hold a public ICO because of Chinese regulations, but NAS was sold in a pre-sale round in June 2017 at $2 USD per token. NAS currently caps at 100 million tokens, with more expected in the future. The tokens are distributed as follows:
– 30% was sold in a pre-sale round.
– 40% is reserved for the community.
– 20% is reserved for the founders and developers as incentives (tokens are frozen for a 3-year vesting period).
– 5% was sold in a founding seed round.
– 5% is in the Nebulas Development Fund.
To support the Proof-of-Devotion consensus process and the Developer Incentive Protocol, Nebulas may generate additional tokens from time to time. The developers expect to generate more NAS on an annual basis starting from 2019 at a rate of 3% of the total NAS supply for the two programs. NAS holders will be able to vote on whether the incentives for Proof-of-Devotion and Developer Incentive Protocol should be greater or less than 3% of the total available supply.
NAS began trading on exchanges in August 2017 at ~$5 USD per token with a market cap of ~$162 million USD. Its value reached an all-time high of $15.10 USD in January 2018 before slowly going back to the ~$5 range, where it has remained.
How Nebulas Works
Nebulas addresses three major problems that currently exist in the blockchain world: the lack of a universal measure of value, the dependence on soft/hard forks for system upgrades, and the lack of a healthy blockchain application ecosystem that rewards both users and developers for their devotion.
It solves these problems with the following features:
Nebulas Rank – Nebulas Rank is the core ranking algorithm that is used to measure value. The algorithm’s measurement variables are based on propagation of user assets, liquidity, and interactivity between users. Nebulas Rank is used to calculate the value of smart contracts, dApps, addresses, and other entities on the blockchain.
Proof of Devotion – Nebulas uses a Proof-of-Devotion achieve consensus. By using Nebulas Rank, Proof-of-Devotion can give active users a fair chance to become bookkeepers and earn block rewards. This is meant to encourage users to contribute to the stability and security of the system on a continuous basis.
Developer Incentive Protocol – the Developer Incentive Protocol is meant to reward smart contract or dApp developers for their devotion to the community. At specified intervals, developers who deploy smart contracts and dApps with a high rank value will be rewarded with incentives that are recorded on the blockchain by bookkeepers. The protocol is meant to create a positive feedback ecosystem for the developer community.
Nebulas Force – Nebulas Rank, Proof-of-Devotion, and the Developer Incentive Protocol will become part of the Nebulas blockchain data, and with their growth, these protocols will upgrade. Nebulas Force gives the platform the ability to self-evolve. Developers will be able to fix bugs and make changes without having to initiate a hard fork.
Nebulas vs. Other Cryptocurrencies
Nebulas isn’t the only blockchain project looking to get a piece of the search engine pie. There is Presearch, a blockchain search engine that rewards users for using, contributing to, and promoting the platform. And there is BitClave, a decentralized search engine that wants to eliminate ad service middlemen and create a direct relationship between consumers and businesses.
The difference between Nebulas and those two projects is that it doesn’t reward users for simply using the platform, and it’s not looking to transform the relationship between advertisers, businesses, and consumers—not yet anyway. Here’s why it stands out:
Unbiased ranking algorithm for measuring value
The Nebulas team wants to create a universal standard of value to calculate the value of data in the blockchain world. They came up with the Nebulas Rank algorithm, which is similar to Google’s PageRank algorithm, to measure the value of smart contracts, dApps, and users in various scenarios.
Self-evolving blockchain system and applications
Nebulas is conditioned to be self-evolving to achieve better resilience, faster computing, and enhanced user experience under little intervention. This feature is called Nebulas Force and it gives Nebulas an edge over other public blockchains in terms of developmental and survival potential. Nebulas aspires to lead the next generation of blockchains in reducing, if not eliminating, the need for hard forks.
Blockchain application ecosystem
The Nebulas team developed the Proof-of-Devotion algorithm to measure user participation on Nebulas. The algorithm uses Nebulas Rank to identify users who are devoted to the ecosystem and gives them a chance of becoming bookkeepers. By using Nebulas Rank, Nebulas can curb the monopoly often seen in Proof-of-Stake platforms.
Inclusive developer incentive mechanism
The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store opened new prospects for mobile application developers by establishing ecosystems with social value and business returns. Nebulas hopes to bring the same benefits to dApp developers using the Developer Incentive Protocol. Outstanding developers will receive NAS from the protocol based on their contributions to the network.
Search engine and blockchain indexing
The Nebulas team wants to create information indexes for blockchains by combining Nebulas Rank with a “keywords” mechanism to sort and manage information in a relevant way. Users will be able to access more relevant and high-value data using Nebulas as if they were using Google.
Buying and Storing Nebulas
Nebulas is currently listed on Huobi, Gate.io, Lbank, BCEX, and OKEx. Huobi has the largest daily trading volume at this time.
Since NAS is an ERC20 token, it can be stored in virtually any Ethereum wallet that supports ERC20 tokens. The best options for storing NAS tokens are MyEtherWallet, Mist, Parity, Jaxx, and MetaMask. You are also able to store NAS in hardware wallets like Ledger Nano S and Trezor. The Nebulas team plans to release an official wallet after the mainnet is launched.
Liquidity of Nebulas
Nebulas is an ambitious project that could potentially revolutionize the blockchain world in the same way Google revolutionized the Internet. The hype around the project coupled with the backing of a solid team of experienced blockchain developers has helped it maintain good market liquidity.
The developers have already launched a testnet that is open to the public. They plan to launch the mainnet at the end of Q1 2018 and other major features like Nebulas Rank and the Developer Incentive Protocol by Q4 2018. This is definitely a project worth keeping an eye on.